Release Date: October 3rd, 2014
Current price at Good Time Games (at time of publication): 44.99$
The next installment of Nintendo’s widely acclaimed fighter featuring their all-stars, mascots, and even some old rivals, finally releases on their portable console this Friday. Super Smash Bros. on 3DS emphasizes competitive play, while also leaving ample room for the casual gamer to have a smashing good time. Today we’ll preview the demo, available to all 3DS owners now on the Nintendo e-shop, while also looking ahead to the final product.
Let’s start this preview with a confession. Since the Smash Bros. 3DS demo’s release two Fridays ago, I’ve put in, at the very least, 6 full hours into it. That’s an absolutely staggering amount of time sank into just a demo of a game, especially considering it only contains a tiny fraction of the characters and stages which will be featured in the full release.
Naturally, I’m a huge Super Smash Bros. fan, and have played many, many hours of each installment since its beginnings on N64. But you don’t have to be a hardcore Smash fan to find hours of enjoyment in this demo, because the amount of time and love Nintendo put into crafting this game is immediately apparent from the moment you boot it up. Here’s why you should be excited for the full game.
The first thing a veteran Smash player will notice in-game is that the speed of the fighting has increased. To some, Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii felt too slow and unbalanced for competitive play, along with a few other annoyances (I’m looking at you, random tripping). Players who had these issues with Brawl will immediately see that Nintendo has done away with them, creating a new Smash that feels much more like Melee did on the Gamecube.
Fighters move and act about as fast as they did in Melee, which, speaking as a lifelong Smash fan, is a very good thing. Overpowered fighters from Brawl, such as Meta Knight, have been rebalanced to allow for competitive players to once again thrive in the Smash community.
The question on everyone’s mind is, “How does the 3DS handle Smash, wasn’t it made to be played on TVs?” It actually handles things quite well, allowing you to clearly see the fighters by outlining them in black. Even in four player matches with items on when the camera zooms out, I was still able to follow my character.
The 3DS version boasts a very smooth frame rate of 60 FPS, which is almost unheard of on a portable console when considering the magnitude of this game. Albeit, some concessions had to be made, such as assist trophy characters running at 30 FPS, but it is still a remarkable feat considering the hardware limitations.
So what’s included in the demo? You get five characters, each with alternate skins or forms, one stage with two variants, two pieces of music, along with a healthy selection of items, assist trophies, and poke ball Pokemon.
You’re only able to set up two minute standard versus matches in the demo, but a very pleasant surprise is the ability to try out local multiplayer with another person who has the demo downloaded. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test this out for myself, but I will be trying online matches for the full review once the final version is out. Also worth mentioning is that you can set the computer to nine varying degrees of difficulty, allowing players of all skill levels to join in on the fun.
Three of the playable characters are returning favourites, Mario, Link, and Pikachu, while the other 2 are newcomers, Mega Man and a villager from Animal Crossing. The returning characters have been slightly tweaked in favour of a more balanced competitive scene, but remain largely the same as their Brawl counterparts on Wii.
The highlights, villager and Megaman, have been lovingly recreated to fit perfectly into the Smash Bros. universe. The villager in particular has been so well designed that his normally passive activities in Animal Crossing, such as growing trees, lighting fireworks, heck, even using his/her inventory system, seem right at home here. Believe it or not, the usually peaceful villager has no shortage of special moves and combos he/she is ready to unleash on the rest of the Smash cast.
With the addition of alternate forms instead of just skins for a few different fighters, you’re able to play as both a male and female villager. While none of the other characters in the demo have alternate forms, other fighters in the full version will have alts, such as the Wii Fit trainer and Captain Olimar.
The only stage available in the demo is Battlefield, which should be a familiar name for Smash veterans, but new for this installment are the omega stage variants. This ingenious feature removes all stage hazards and platforms, essentially making a stage a flat plane, and will be available for every stage in the full version of the game. This means you won’t have to constantly play on Final Destination to achieve a balanced, tournament level of competitiveness, and that’s fantastic.
For now, choosing the omega variant is the only way to turn off items in the demo (the true way to play competitively), but you can bet that the retail version will give you a full item select just like the previous installments.
There are many new items included in the demo, all originating from Nintendo franchises or classic games. My favourite new addition is the Boss Galaga ship from the classic arcade game of the same name, Galaga. Use it, and watch as he tries to beam your enemies up and off the screen for the KO!
Many of the new items are one hit kill items, which may turn some people off, but they are either easily avoided or are able to be defeated with a few hits (like Boss Galaga). You can always turn off individual items in the item select in the full version of the game. The real highlight in the items department are the assist trophies.
For those of you who missed Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii, assist trophies are a form of item that summons a classic video game character from Nintendo’s past into the fray to help you KO your opponents. Present in the demo are absolutely awesome assist trophies, including Ghirahim from LoZ: Skyward Sword, the fearsome Mother Brain from the Metroid series, and Elec Man from the Mega Man series, among others. You can even summon two paddles that play a game of Pong, complete with a score on the top of the screen, KOing any unlucky combatant caught in their retro crossfire!
I am very happy to report that there will be many more assist trophy characters and poke ball Pokemon included in the full version of the game that didn’t find their way into the demo, so don’t worry if you haven’t seen your favourite assist trophy or Pokemon yet!
Another returning element from Brawl are the final smashes. Basically, a ball with the Smash Bros. logo will appear onscreen periodically, and whoever can land the final hit on it breaks it and gains their fighter’s final smash. Activate it by pushing your special move button, and watch the fireworks fly.
Each fighter has a unique final smash for themselves, with some requiring you to be right next to your target, and others able to effectively hit all enemies at once, among other variants. Make sure to experiment with every character’s final smash, especially the villager’s; that’s my favourite from the demo!
I can’t write this preview and not mention the superb music and sound; it would be a crime against humanity. Not only are the two tracks you get for the Battlefield stage great (one is Melee’s menu music, it will bring you back), but the sound design for each character and item is phenomenal. Nintendo and video game enthusiasts will have their ears rewarded with faithful recreations of classic sound effects and music spanning multiple decades.
From the noise the villager makes when he suddenly halts his sprint, to the Wrecking Crew music that plays when you snag a golden hammer, there’s something for the video game Mozart in all of us. Also, the full version will let you play any music from the game you want while your 3DS is in sleep mode, showing you just how serious the developers are about including awesome music in the game.
The full 3DS version contains all 49 characters present in the upcoming Wii U version launching this Holiday season, which is another insane accomplishment. (Note: not all 49 characters are present on the character select screen, some must be unlocked) The 3DS version differentiates itself by having stages prominently featured in portable games, whereas the Wii U version will predictably contain stages mainly from console games.
The 3DS version will also include an exclusive mode called Smash Run, which tasks players with defeating recognizable enemies in a time limit while powering up to defeat a boss at the end.
Another massive new feature of this installment of Smash not present in the demo is character customization, which will allow you to choose variations on each character’s special attacks to your liking, as well as use stat boosting equipment for your characters. This feature will be present in both versions.
If you’re a 3DS owner who hasn’t yet downloaded the Smash Bros. demo, what are you waiting for? Even casual Nintendo fans will find something to love here, with multiple skins or alternate costumes for each character, amazing new and retro music, and some of the best gameplay in Super Smash Bros. history. And that’s just with five characters and one stage. Are you excited for the full game yet?
Make sure you make it out to the Good Time Games midnight release of Super Smash Bros. 3DS this Friday, October 3rd! Doors will be open at 12:05AM. Remember, it’s not too late to pre-order your copy! There will be extra copies available for those who missed out on pre-ordering.
Not only will we be holding a midnight launch for Smash Bros. 3DS, but also a tournament! We’ll give you this Friday to practice your skills, but come Saturday, October 4th at 2 PM, it’s on. Check any grudges you might have at the door and #SettleItInSmash!
Please leave a comment or suggestion below and I'll be happy to get back to you as soon as I'm able. A full review will be out very soon, so stay tuned!
NOTE: Articles in the very near future will be incorporating pictures and even videos into them for your viewing pleasure!